tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC December 12, 2016 11:00pm-11:31pm PST
tonight just hours away from an official announcement donald trump has picked as secretary of state. could his fate be tied to russia and putin? >> he said he doesn't believe those intelligence findings on russian hacking but at what cost? the 45th and future president has put off the announcement about his plans for the family business. "the 11th hour" begins now. and good monday evening from our new york headquarters. tomorrow will put us just 38 days from inauguration day for the new 45th president who tonight said on twitter he will announce his pick for secretary of state tomorrow morning. nbc news then confirmed mitt romney got the call tonight, the call from donald trump telling him he would not be getting the job.
he said, quote, it was an honor to be considered as secretary of state of our great country. and breaking just moments ago, two sources now telling nbc news that exxon mobil ceo will get the job of secretary of state. rex tillerson has ties around the world, especially russia, where tillerson once ran companies. he knows many people well, he knows putin well. the press has come in roaring with the news that u.s. intelligence agencies believe russia meddled in our election and favored trump. >> i don't believe it. i think it's ridiculous.
if you look at the story and look at what was said, it's very confusing. hacking is very interesting. once they hack, if you don't catch them, you don't know who it was. they don't know if it's russia or somebody in a bed someplace. >> then why did the cia put out that it was the russians? >> i don't think they put it out. i think the democrats put it out. >> reporter: u.s. intelligence officials are saying they hacked, quote, prioritized democratic institutions and, quote, cia analysts updated their findings on russian hackings saying after november 8 they came to believe russian interference was ultimately designed to help trump win. today former acting director of the cia said, quote, a former government messing around in our
elections is an existential threat to our way of life. this is the political equivalent of 9/11. and there was this from white house press secretary josh earnest. >> you didn't need a security clearance to figure out who benefited from malicious russian cyber activity. he called on russia to hack secretary clinton. so he certainly had a pretty good sense of whose side this activity was coming down on. >> the politics of this got interesting today when the top two elected republicans in washington, mitch mcconnell and house speaker paul ryan, came out in favor of an investigation of russia's role in this election. mcconnell spoke with reporters on the hill. >> obviously any foreign breach of our cyber security measures is disturbing, and i strongly condemn any such efforts.
i agree with senator schumer, chairman mccain, burr and others. this simply cannot be a partisan issue. it defies belief that somehow republicans in the senate are reluctant to either review russian tactics or ignore them. the russians are not our friends. >> also new tonight from bloomberg politics trump is postponing until next month a previously announced news conference to outline how he'll handle his far-flung business operations while in the white house. that's according to senior trump of transition officials. a new date for this new announcement hasn't been set, but it will be before the inauguration on january 20th. let's start things off with correspondent kristen welker covering the trump transition with details about this apparent tillerson selection. kristen? >> reporter: brian, good evening. we did confirm according to multiple sources that president trump is going to make this announcement official as early
as 6:00 a.m. tomorrow. set your alarm, it's going to come in very early, for folks who are up at that time. this is something that is an unconventional pick for a couple of reasons. one, this is someone who doesn't have diplomatic experience. he has worked for exxonmobil for 40 years, he's the ceo of exxonmobil, and as you pointed out extensively in your open, he has deep ties to russia. that is in part because he's done business all over the world. he's executed deals all over the world, and that's something the president-elect has really made a strong virtue. he said that could really benefit the united states. but you did hear members of the republican party over the weekend express concerns about it. senator john mccain saying he wants to know more about his ties to russia. and mitch mcconnell says knowing vladimir putin is not what he thinks about when he says he knows people in russia.
it is likely, brian, this is going to be a tougher battle. i can tell you that i spoke with one of his top transition officials earlier today because andrea mitchell, of course, reported over the weekend that president-elect trump intended to pick tillerson, and i said, is mr. trump wavering at all on this decision? i got a very strong, affirmative no back. the sense was this candidate was simply more qualified based on what his terms of qualification are and that he was really in a different league than the other contenders. as you pointed out, mitt romney did get a phone call earlier tonight essentially saying he is not going to be the pick for secretary of state, and there was a lot of internal dates within trump world about mitt romney because he was a very serious consideration at one point as well, but i think one of the things that was so
difficult for him to overcome is the fact he's been such an early critic of then candidate trump. again, we are expecting this report at 6:00 a.m. >> thank you for that reporting. let's bring in nicolle wallace and we'll get to tillerson per se in just a moment. but the russia obsession, i have more years on me than you have on you. i was born in '59, came up during the cold war. this was the enemy. we got in the space race because of them. we got in the cold war because of them. we spent what we did. it defined our era prior to this. and now a big change that we're being asked to wrap our heads around.
what's this about? >> you also are one of a handful of people, unfortunately for you, who knows of my putin obsession. we had chris christie here one evening and i pressed and pressed on where this comes from on trump's part. perhaps it was manaforte. manaforte has been gone for a while. this pick, someone who has immense qualifications for the job, has now been branded as a close friend, someone who won an award from russia for being such a good friend to that country. that is not a brand he takes to his confirmation hearings in the senate is. on the very moment, on the very day who john mccain, who a lot of people have privately skpl publicly been talking about how this may be his finest hour as a public servant, as a patriot, that he may be the person who holds trump's feet to the fire in the context you just described, our long complicated
tensions with russia. i don't think john mccain is going to let my nomination get by, particularly someone known for their friendships with russia, without probing not just his past alliances, because there's certainly justifiable reason for the head of exxonmobil to deal with the head of russia, but his impulses, his reflexes. i think that's probably what troubles someone like john mccain, not just this pick, but donald trump's statements particularly about the hacking and revelations in the last 24 hours. >> and it has been said half jokingly that russia has their own foreign policy, they have their own weather bureau, they may affect the climate down the road. explain to the folks watching how one, two, three senators having a bad day or who don't like this nomination can cause big trouble for an incoming president on capitol hill.
>> sure, brian. in addition, exxonmobil, i believe, has its own intelligence analysis office. a lot of former government officials, some who have worked in intelligence. a pretty sophisticated operation. look, rex tillerson has to be confirmed, of course, and he has to get through the senate foreign relations committee. on that committee you'll have a lot of democrats who are inherently hostile to trump, and then you have some republicans who are russia hawks who don't want to see a change in our relationship with russia. we think it's a bad idea particularly at this moment with everything that we're learning about russia and interference in the election. so he can be stopped in committee. and then when you get to the senate floor, you're going to have some senators like john mccain in particular who may be really guns blazing on this. and we've all seen that, you know, a few angry senators have a lot of leverage and can stymie a president. let me just add, brian, nicolle, if you run a big conglomerate,
you're going to do business with russia. it's not even rex himself, it's the signal it sends that donald trump really does intend to follow through on his campaign pledge to revamp our relationship with moscow at a time when people find that very troubling, and they think, frankly, that trump has some indecipherable motive here. we can obey exxon's practices, it's really the message he's sending. they're not ready for a bad relationship with russia. >> because the presidential
daily brief is also in the news, something you've been around in your previous day job, can he not ask his briefers from the cia to come in and show me, lay out the evidence? would he not be curious? >> you would hope that he would be. you know, i think a lot of people -- and again, i think establishment republicans, establishment politicians were on the ballot on november 8 and we lost, so i say this as someone who is fully aware that the traditional way of doing things, there was a referendum on traditions and they lost. but the traditional way of gathering information is that the country's commander in chief is to be aware of all the threats facing this country, and you can't make the country great if you can't keep it safe. so this idea he doesn't want to receive intelligence every day is troubling when layered on top of what we already know about his impulses about russia.
you talked about starting your administration with an adversarial relationship with the cia. try starting your administration with an adversarial relationship with john mccain. i worked for a republican white house that was constantly at odds with john mccain over the way the iraq war was being conducted. in fact, it was john mccain who was able to most effectively shape the narrative about how the public felt about the war, about how they felt about don rumsfeld, about how they felt about pre insurgent rock. john mccain is the single most influential voice on foreign policy the country over, but especially if you're a republican. if you are sworn in, and you are already at war with john mccain, whoo, it's going to be rough sailing. >> michael, i had a former veteran of the security business suggest to me today, however
patronizing this idea will sound, that someone ought to take donald trump over to langley and look at the stars on the wall and realize the men and women, especially in the clandestine services, who are at risk tonight who have given their lives over the years. the 17 intelligence agencies will give the president-elect the raw materials of foreign policy. they've been wrong in the past, but they had a good day today. they were right, so we're able to sit here and have this conversation, and our cities are safe. they have to have a good day every day, and they are a part of the mechanism of government. >> well, they absolutely are, brian, and i actually was curious today and i went back and searched through donald trump's twitter feed, and i asked, what was he saying about the cia before all this happened, before he ran for president? lo and behold, almost exactly two years ago on december 15 of 2012 when there was a big debate about the cia's enhanced
interrogation aka torture practices, trump was tweeting that people should lay off the heroes at the cia, that the politicians were whining while these heroic americans were sticking their necks off and putting their lives on the line. so donald trump saw it when the context was a little different. it's a strange foot to get off on and it's very disturbing to people who have served in national security. i mean, it's just totally unprecedented. and it's also just not a great fight to pick. i mean, the intelligence agencies are sort of power centers of their own. and even if he does change the leadership, which he will, there's no way john brennan is going to remain -- we know he's not going to remain as cia chief, he's going to put in mike pompayo. these decisions are make a president's life difficult. he's not picking a very wise fight and i'm not sure it's a very political fight, either. >> michael, nicolle, thank you very much for starting off our
broadcast and our week tonight. coming up after our first break, is this any way to treat the men and women who risked life and limb to gather the secrets that are handed on to the president? we will talk live with the cia director about trump's treatment of his own shop, when "the 11th hour" continues.